The US has surprised analysts around the globe after it was revealed that its carbon emissions have fallen to their lowest level since 1994.
According to a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance for the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, the country’s emissions have fallen by 13% in the past five years.
Gas speeds ahead
The report says that the dramatic change is due to a seismic shift occurring in the country’s energy production with more electricity than ever before being generated from natural gas and renewable sources rather than fossil fuels like coal and oil.
In April 2012, electricity generation from natural gas equalled that from coal for the first time in US history.
During 2012 as a whole, 31.3% of electricity generated in the US came from natural gas and 12.1% came from renewable sources, compared to just 21.9% and 8.3% in 2007 respectively. Only 18.1% of America’s electricity came from coal in 2012.
The rise of natural gas is a result of the success of fracking, a process where gas is released by shattering hard shale rock, while the plummeting cost of renewable technologies per kilowatt hour has made them far more economically viable for suppliers and businesses.
The price of energy per kilowatt hour for solar power plants fell from 31 cents to 14 cents between 2009 and 2012. It also fell from nine cents to eight cents for wind farms over the same time period.
Another big driver in the cut in the US carbon emissions is that the demand for energy fell by 6.4% between 2007 and 2012. This phenomenon is the result of great efforts by businesses to save energy, for example by installing more efficient heaters or air-conditioning machines.
Boom for business
They will also stand to win in the long term should the US succeed in becoming energy self-sufficient within the next couple of decades as analysts are predicting, because their energy prices will not be dictated by unstable global oil and gas markets.